China Is No Longer America's Top Source of Imports

Mexico is now
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2024 1:28 PM CST
China Is No Longer America's Top Source of Imports
Trucks line up to cross into the United States at the border in Tijuana, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Hans-Maximo Musielik)

America has a new top source of imports, and it's not located an ocean away. According to data released Wednesday, the US now imports more from Mexico than from China, reports the New York Times. It's the first time China has been out of of the top spot since it overtook Canada almost 20 years ago. Imports from Mexico in the first 11 months of 2023 remained steady year-on-year at around $475 billion while imports from China dropped sharply, according to US Commerce Department data. Goods from China made up 13.9% of US imports, while imports from Mexico made up 15%, reports Voice of America, which notes China's share was at 21% in 2017.

Analysts say the "decoupling" from China is down to several factors, including tariffs introduced by the Trump administration, global reshuffling of supply chains, and a change in buying habits after the pandemic, when people shopping online snapped up all kinds of products from China. "The world couldn't get access to enough Chinese goods in '21, and it gorged on Chinese goods in '22," Brad Setser, an economist at the Council on Foreign Relations, tells the Times. "Everything has been normalizing since then."

The US has been pushing to import more from allies instead of China, a process called "friendshoring," Voice of America notes. But some analysts caution against relying too much on high-level numbers, noting that Chinese firms continue to expand their manufacturing facilities beyond the Chinese mainland. Forbes reports that according to government data, the US also has a new top port: Port Laredo in Texas, which handles vast amounts of imports from Mexico. For the first time, America's top export was oil, while passenger vehicles replaced oil as the leading import. (More imports stories.)

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